Blitzkrieg Commander Review - The Battle of Yenangyaung

The year is 1942, during the Burma campaign in World War II. The Burma Corps led by Lieutenant General William Slim of Britain and consisting of British, Burmese and Indian troops attempted to defend the Irrawaddy River valley, whilst the Chinese Expeditionary Force defended the Sittaung River valley to the east. After the Japanese success on the continent they launched attacks into Central Burma. An objective for the Japanese was to capture the Yenangyaung (Yen-Ang-Yong) oil fields which would play a key part in controlling resources throughout Burma. 7,500 British soldiers and civilians were surrounded by the Japanese, having already taken on many wounded from defending the oil fields William called for aid from the Chinese. General Sun responded by sending 1,200 men and the assigned 7th armour brigade to relieve the British.

The Chinese creep across the fields, being mainly infantry meant slow going for a good half of the game.
History lesson over, but wow that really sets the scene. We recently played our first game of Blitzkrieg Commander and both me and the wife were politely surprised at how much fun it was. First of all a big thank you to Paul Cocks who did a terrific job of showing us the rules, himself playing the British. I decided to command the large Japanese force which left the Chinese for my wife. Roles chosen we got to grips with the rules. Wow! They are very simple but elegant, there are enough moving parts to keep activations interesting, trying to decide on the best positioning and use of your units. Off the board artillery is a fun element in trying to pound the pesky British into oblivion and the dice rolling mechanic which decides how much you can push your luck on a turn is really nice in building up the tension. There are rules for various weapons and units which do a good job of emulating a factions pros and cons and as used effectively against me, dug in units in urban terrain are just a pig to get rid of.

The Japanese forces storm the hillside in an effort to outflank the British
The Japanese started well but the Brits were dug in tight and after snoozing on the job for several turns the Chinese finally turned on the heat to flank the Japanese in a well executed pincer move. With the pressure rising the Japanese got their kamikaze on BONZAIIIII style charging the dug in British infantry and driving a tank into the buildings to dislodge them, but alas it was too late. Seeing his grave mistakes and his forces in tatters the Japanese commander did the only honourable thing left and committed seppuku.

The Chinese Armour fights a pitched battle with a wall of Japanese infantry
So it was our first time playing Blitzkrieg Commander and how would we rate it? We came away feeling like we had just re-enacted our own bit of history which was great and can only touch on what it meant for these people in real life to fight these battles. The history lesson plus added fun was really good, a second plus point was the rule set which was very simple but kept on offering up little extras that if fully digested I am sure would offer tactical variety and some interesting opportunities. Finally the cost, this game is really cheap! Yes an astounding victory, not only was it fun but it has a very low entry cost to get going. Yes you need scenery (but not as much as small skirmish games), yes you need to paint the models (but being 15mm means you can be very minimalist) so there are these added costs but if you are a miniature gamer already you probably have most of what is required.

This game was great fun for both me and the wife we will definitely give it another go, much fun to be had and educational to boot!

Craig McNicholas

Some say he’s half man half fish, others say he’s more of a seventy/thirty split. Either way he’s a fishy bastard.